OG #Girlboss: Helena Rubinstein


Introducing you to #GIRLBOSSES from times gone by...


What qualifies cosmetics maven Helena Rubinstein (1870 - 1965) as an original #GIRLBOSS? Well, where to begin? Perhaps with the fact she fled her native Poland alone at the age of just 16, to avoid getting caught up in an arranged marriage. Or that she then went to Australia and immediately started hustling; launching a face cream and establishing a beauty brand in her own name - revolutionary at the time - before traveling to London and Paris and launching the world's first beauty salons en route. At Rubinstein's salons, women could get their makeup done, but also learn to do it themselves, as part of her mission of female empowerment through beauty. Her first slogan - BEAUTY IS POWER - says it all.

After Europe, Rubinstein went to the US, where she built a cosmetics empire that spanned four continents and established her as the 'first self-made woman magnate'. Even more inspiring than the business Rubinstein created are the principles she stood for: That women should be able to use make up as a tool of self-empowerment. That makeup was less a mask; more a means of self-expression, in an age of social and cultural conformity. And that all her customers should be able to afford to use makeup to these ends, regardless of wealth or status. Rubinstein's aesthetic of full coverage foundation and dark lipstick might seem outdated in an era of bare skin and full brows, but her hustle and attitude was anything but.

Learn more about Rubinstein's life at Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Powera new exhibition celebrating her life, work, and phenomenal art collection at The Jewish Museum through March 22, 2015.

Buzz, TribeNazmul Hassan